Friends Are the Family that Choose You

This post is probably going to end up being like a love letter to my best friends, but they deserve it so I am not embarrassed. I know that I am blessed and lucky to have them. We met in high school. The irony is that we weren’t even friends in high school. I knew of them. I shared a lunch table with one of them, but I didn’t count them among my best friends at the time. My closest group of friends would go on to become best friends after high school. More irony, right.

In order to make this easier to follow, I will call them T and K. T and K went off to college and became close. I found other friends to spend time with, but one day ran into T. I began spending time with T and realized that we had so much in common that I still don’t know how we weren’t friends in high school. When K came back from school, T spent time with her which put me back in touch with K. Before long, we became a trio. We realized that we all got along well and enjoyed the same things. It started out just being about fun. We enjoyed each others company and made each other laugh.

Over time, it grew deeper. We became the speed dial numbers for each other after every bad date, breakup, lost job or any other loss that life presents. We cried on each others’ shoulders. We consoled each other and alleviated pain following breakups. We reminded each other how beautiful, smart, funny and great we were. We laughed together. We pushed and supported each other through every part of life. Before I knew it, these incredible women found their way into the very thing I protected from everyone, my heart. We have seen each other through relationships. We have navigated weddings, childbirth, job loss and everything else life throws at you. One day, I realized that I didn’t just have girlfriends. I had sisters.

The other day, I visited T. She just had twins and I couldn’t help but marvel at how our lives have progressed. I thought it was such a blessing to have the privilege to know someone from the time she was  a teenager until she is a woman with her own children and husband. I was fortunate to be invited into her life and allowed to advise and guide her to be the amazing woman she is now. Friendship is such a gift. Even more than that, she has multiple people to love and care for and she saves a special place for me. I remember when I was getting ready to leave. I saw a flash of sadness across her face. She didn’t want me to leave and I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to protect her and make everything better. Her presence always makes me feel better so I understand. She reminded me that friendships are precious and an honor.

I am fortunate. My friendships haven’t always been this easy. There were times when we would get angry with each other and exchange words, but we always fought for each other. We knew that we were worth it. Every relationship comes with it’s challenges. A friendship is a relationship. It requires and deserves as much energy and attention as any relationship. It’s easy to discount it and assume that it will be there, but you shouldn’t.  Your family will put up with you. But, if you allow it, your friends see all of you and still choose to be your friend. If you are really lucky, they choose to be in your life long-term. I am not the easiest person to deal with and yet, my friends and their family love me and accept me. I am so blessed and I know it.

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”- Albert Camus

What is the recipe for a true friendship? It’s someone that gives as much to you as you give to them. It’s the person that when you say you are unhappy, they want to figure out how to make you happy. They want to see you happy. They will tell you the truth.  They know more about you than anyone else and vice versa. Your friend will be there when things fall apart. They are the people that loves you for you even when you don’t know how to love yourself. They don’t have hidden agendas. They don’t ask you to show up for them all the time without returning the favor. Friends want to be in your life and are willing to do what is necessary to stay in yours. A true friend will teach you about love. If you have anything less, you have an associate.

I know I am lucky. But, you can be lucky too. Be careful who you give the friend stamp too. To my friends T and K, I hope they know that if they need me, I will always be there. If I have a choice, I choose them every time. They are the best family decision I ever made.